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Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Pie

As the shorter, darker, colder, Wintery days approach, we enter peak pie and crumble season. I've recently been making a few batches of sweet short crust pastry. Part of the process of making this pastry is to make a crumble with flour and butter which got me thinking about crumbles. I do enjoy a hot, fruit crumble during the Winter. I also enjoy pies. If you think about it they're not too dissimilar. A crumble mix isn't too far removed from a pastry mix. A crumble is sprinkled on top of fruit whereas a pie crust encases a fruit filling. Could I come up with a recipe for a pudding which uses both? Better yet, could I adapt one of my own recipes and turn it from a Summer Flan into a Winter Pie? Well, I have. Using my recipe for Flan Pâtissier I've added tinned fruit to the top along with a crumble. You don't have to use tinned rhubarb, you could use a few fresh stalks of rhubarb, finely sliced and tossed in a little sugar (or even sliced apples or pears), or other tinned fruit such as peaches! I would stay away from things like tinned or fresh strawberries though as they can release a lot of juices when baked and could make the whole pie and crumble a little wet. You can even swap the ground ginger for cinnamon if you prefer. The custard sets when baked, it's perfect for eating hot or cold. I would recommend if you do want a little extra on the side to either have a dollop of clotted cream or ice cream. Either way, play around with the recipe and enjoy!

Serves 12

Hands-on Time inc. Chilling 90 minutes

Baking Time 45 minutes


1 Egg, medium

2 Egg yolks, medium

100g Caster sugar

30g Light brown sugar

Fine salt, pinch

50g Cornflour

400ml Full-fat milk

170ml Single cream

1 tbsp Vanilla extract (or seeds from 1 vanilla pod)

70g Unsalted butter (cold)

Tinned Rhubarb (245g drained weight approx.)

100g Plain flour

1 tsp Ground ginger

1 tbsp Demerara sugar

3 tbsp Oats


Rolling pin

20cm Pie tin

Sharp knife

1 Large bowl

Hand whisk (silicone if possible)

Large saucepan



Kitchen paper

Baking sheet

Remove the pastry from fridge and unfold the clingfilm.

With the dough still between the clingfilm, roll out into a circle.

Take the pie tin, placing the dough inside to see if it's big enough to line the base and sides.

When you think you've rolled the dough out enough, remove the top layer of clingfilm.

Flip the dough over into the tin and adjust so it's centred.

With the clingfilm still on, press the dough into the corners and sides of the tin.

Carefully remove the clingfilm and run a sharp knife around the edge of the tin, cutting off any excess dough. If you need to patch the edges, use the offcuts to do this.

If you want to crimp the edges like I have, make a V with your index and middle finger. They should be about a finger apart. Put your hand over the centre of the pie tin, fingers facing outwards and rest them on the edge of the pastry. Using your other index finger, push it into the V, taking the pastry with it. Move your fingers around the edge of the pastry repeating this process until you have completed a lap. I find it’s best to then pinch the Vs you have made, so they’re pointed.

Place the tin in the fridge to chill for at least 60 minutes.

In the meantime get on with making the custard.

Whisk together the eggs (whole and yolks), sugars, and salt in a large bowl until light and foamy.

Add the cornflour and whisk again until thick.

Add the milk, cream, vanilla extract, and 20g of butter to the saucepan and place over a medium-high heat.

Stir the milk mixture with a spatula until the butter has melted and it’s gently bubbling.

Remove for the heat.

Whilst whisking the egg mixture slowly add the milk.

Continue whisking after the milk has been incorporated.

You are looking to have a very thick wobbly custard, so add the mixture back to the pan and place over a low heat. Stir continuously until it thickens up. The key thing is to keep stirring so you don’t get any lumps. Remove the pan from the heat once thick enough and transfer back into the bowl.

Place the clingfilm directly over the top of the custard to stop a skin from forming and leave to cool.

If you want to bake the pie immediately, preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C(Fan)/375°F/Gas mark 5 and place a baking sheet on the middle shelf to heat up. If you want to bake the pie later, continue with the assembly and leave the pie in the fridge.

When the custard has cooled, remove the pie dish from the fridge.

Add the custard to the centre of the tin and spread out to the sides so you have an even top.

Open the tin of rhubarb and drain away the syrup. Tip onto a couple of sheets of kitchen paper and squeeze out any excess syrup.

Place the rhubarb on top of the custard. Don’t put it all the way to the edge of the pastry.

In a clean large bowl, add the plain flour and ginger and combine using your hands.

Cube 50g of cold butter and place on top the flour. Rub together until you have a fine sand-like crumb.

Add the Demerara sugar and oats and gently toss using your hands.

Scatter the crumble over the top of the top of the pie, making sure you cover all of the custard and rhubarb.

If you are making the pie in advance, pop it back into the fridge until you want to bake it. Ensure you do preheat the oven and place a baking sheet as previously instructed.

Carefully place onto the baking sheet on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes.

Once the time is up reduce the temperature to 170°C/150°C(Fan)/325°F/Gas mark 3 and bake for a further 30 minutes.

The pie should have a beautifully browned and golden top.

Remove the pie from the oven and leave to sit on the hob or worktop for 5 or so minutes. Basically until it’s cool enough to cut up and eat without scolding your mouth.

One word of warning for anyone new to pies and tarts. The first cut isn’t always the best, so don’t despair if the first slice resembles more of a crumble. Once the first slice is removed, all others should be perfect.


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